Estancia del Rio: A Desert Residence in O’Keeffe Country

April 08, 2015

New Mexico’s Chama River was a much beloved landscape subject of artist Georgia O’Keeffe.  She paints a sinuous river cutting through the layered desert landscape, the blue water a sharp contrast to the earthen tones of the hills.

The most recent desert residence we have completed, Estancia del Rio, commands a view of the Chama River Valley from much the same vantage point as O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch paintings.  The house, a single residence conceived as separate buildings, blends into the desert landscape by virtue of thick stone and adobe walls.  Emphasizing the mass and echoing the forms of native cliff dwellings, walls step or ramp up and down with emphasis on the horizontal or nearly horizontal line.  The overall effect is harmonious with the shapes and materiality of the landscape, blurring the boundary between man-made structure and natural desert forms.